Thinking and Being: From Parmenides to Descartes and Beyond

Eleni Papamichael


This paper concentrates on the effort to trace the limits of the “revolution” which the Cartesian “Cogito” brought about in the history of Philosophy, within the context of a broader research that begins with Parmenides’ Poem. The research in question concerns the general issue of the correlation between thinking and being to which the “Cogito” itself, as such, refers one. Despite the apparent agreement of Parmenides and Descartes on this issue, what this paper aims first of all, is to demonstrate the radical difference which in reality exists, regarding this issue, between these two philosophers, as well as, more generally, between Descartes and the ancient Greek spirit. From the abandonment of this spirit, essentially springs forth the concept of the individual consciousness, which, in the future, was to form the basis for the creation of certain new philosophical theories, whose sole common element would be the reference to this concept. After Descartes, and all the way towards Structuralism, there have, however, also been developed certain theories of another type, which have attempted to achieve the re-connection with the ancient conception of thinking and being. As examples of this effort, this paper denotes the theories of Kant, Hegel and Heidegger.

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